Thursday, June 16, 2011

Amateur Upholstery Hour: Stripped Down

Some headway is being made on the sofa.  J and I have removed not one, but two layers of old upholstery and batting.  Apparently the white brocade was a re-upholstery job done right over the top of the old upholstery.  Strange, no?  It's really not that difficult to remove it.  Now putting it back on may be another story...

Here's a before shot.

This little monster on the end of the sofa will show up in many of these pictures.  She literally cannot stand it when something new is going on in the house and has to be involved.  It's hilarious and also really annoying.  You know what they say about curiosity and cats.

I'm not too concerned about sewing the cushions other than dealing with pattern matching issues.  They're just simple box cushions.  It's the frame of the couch that I'm most worried about.  We spent a lot of time measuring and documenting how it was put together as we took it apart.   And took lots of photos as we took everything off.

Double welt at the bottom.  Do I piece the bottom panel like this?  Or just use one length of fabric?  I guess piecing would save some yardage.  Upholstery fabric is expensive.

She's an expert at being cute.  Especially when also being bad.

We walked away for a moment and returned only to find her inside of the sofa when we took off the back panel.

Check out the old upholstery.  An orange and yellow jacquard of some sort.   My best guess for year is 1962.
The frame seems to be solid pine.  Solid and heavy.  J is going to repair the wood and glaze it to match the original dark brown stain.  We haven't bought the fabric yet, but we are 99% percent sure we've picked it out-- at twenty-two dollars a yard.   Suddenly, the twenty-seven dollar sofa becomes much more costly.  
But it's worth it.

  As we were peeling back the layers, a story was forming in my head about who used to own this sofa.  This was Milton and Geraldine's sofa.  They bought it brand new in 1962.  It was super chic and fancy then.  Fit right in to their mid-century modern home.  I can see the brass star burst clock hanging on the wall covered in lattice wallpaper.  Years later, Milton and Geraldine decided to reupholster their sofa in a nice white brocade when they retired to Florida.  Hehe...

There's something that I find immensely gratifying about this project.
This piece of furniture was not made to be disposable after a few years of use, like some things are nowadays.  It was made to last.  It was made to be re-upholstered from time to time.  There's something satisfying about that. 

Milton and Geraldine, we're glad to have your sofa.


There was no tag anywhere in the sofa when we took it apart.  I was hoping there would be, just so I would know a little more about.  These numbers and letters are written across the top of the back.  Any clue what they mean? Of course 96" is the length.  This could have been written whenever it was reupholstered, too.   I'm pretty sure that all the springs in the seat back were replaced at that point.  They look newer than the seat springs and the burlap from the back of the seat back was missing (I can tell it was there at some point because of the staples).



  1. You are so brave, and this is going to be so stunning when it's done!

    Somehow bargains often seem that way. I remember one gorgeous caned-seat chair my mom rescued from an alley. Refinishing and getting the seat re-caned cost well over $100. It was absolutely stunning when done... but that was an expensive "free" find.

    ... I have a similar problem when I have to buy lining or underlining to match some bargain fabric...

  2. Cool! Thanks for the look inside, and I love your story about Milton and Geraldine. It's like that when you work with a second-hand object. That's part of my attraction to vintage patterns.

  3. I love the wood design--I'm sure you do too:)

    I'm sure Milton and Geraldine are thrilled that you are giving new life to their couch. (At least I'm thrilled--he,he) Keep showing us the process. Maybe one day, I'll be brave enough to do it myself. Of course, if I had a cute kitty, that might help.

  4. It's going to be amazing. Obviously the cat thinks you are doing this all for her!
    I get far more attached to my bargain finds than brand new things, they're so unique and totally irreplaceable.

    And I think you'll look amazing in emerald green - do make something!

  5. Oh my goodness, I can't wait to see this completed. The chair I am sitting in right now has been needing reupholstering for three years now, perhaps you'll inspire me to finally get started. :]

  6. Thanks for the look inside and also shots of the cute, furry helper! It's a big undertaking but it'll be so great when you guys are able to lounge on it for the first (and fiftieth) time!

  7. It's going to be wonderful, and of course your cat is the most adorable creature! So funny that she was inside the sofa when you came back...! They love to "help", no?

  8. Good old Milton and Geraldine. I'd like to hear more about their lives! And what a cute kitty!

    Can't wait to see how this project turns out.

  9. What a great project. It will look fab when you're done.

  10. This is going to be wonderful! Our cats are the same they try to 'help' with every project :) Have a lovely weekend!

  11. Glad to know you all like my story about Milton and Geraldine. J thinks I'm a total dork.

    Sherry- Yes, the cat does think I'm doing all of this for her! I'm not sure how I'm going to break it to her that she's not allowed on the sofa when it's been reupholstered. I may have to give that up though, since it's going in front of the bird watching window.

    Alexandra- Yes-- "help" definitely needs to be in quotation marks

    Furry project manager, Valerie... haha!

  12. Wow, that couch is pretty spectacular even just bare. I can't wait to see the finished project! I've never tackled anything that big and I've never even reupholstered anything more than a seat cushion.

    And I love the idea that the couch was meant to last and that you're breathing new life into it. Oh, and your cat is pretty freakin' adorable, too. ;)